The Software Agents Mailing List FAQ

This file contains the Frequently Asked Questions list for the software agents mailing list. Please note that this FAQ will be updated (semi-)regularly and is sure to be incomplete in areas.

Table of Contents

1.0 Introduction - Charter

This mailing list is devoted to the issues of Software Agents. The term `agent' is ill-defined but discussion focuses on software agents as opposed to hardware (robots) or human agents.

2.0 The Mailing List

2.1 What is the list about?

The purpose of the list is to provide a forum for the discussion of issues related to software agents. The study of software agents is an emerging field combining elements of traditional artificial intelligence, game theory, psychology, and object-oriented programming (among other fields).

2.2 How do I join or quit the list ?

To join the list, send email to with "subscribe agents <your name here>" in the body of the message.

To have yourself removed from the mailing list send a message to (from the account with which you originally subscribed) with "unsubscribe agents" in the body of the message.

Further instructions will be automatically mailed to you.

The list maintainer is Raymond Johnson.

2.3 Where can I find an archive of the list ?

An archive of the list exists on the WWW at URL:

3.0 Software Agents

3.1 What is a software agent?

First of all, it should be noted that there are widely varying definitions of the term `agent'. This FAQ will not attempt to provide an authoritative definition, but will mention some qualities shared by most agents, and will provide pointers to further sources of information.

Agent-oriented programming (AOP) (a term coined by researcher Yoav Shoham) concerns itself with the creation of software agents. A dictionary definition of the term `agent' follows:

"An entity authorized to act on another's behalf."

A software agent is a piece of software which acts to accomplish tasks on behalf of its user.

Many agents are based on the idea that the user need only specify specify a high-level goal instead of issuing explicit instructions, leaving the `how' and `when' decisions to the agent.

3.2 Some Attributes of Software Agents

This list of qualities of software agents is taken from a paper by O. Etzioni and Dan Weld, appearing in IEEE Expert, July 1995.

4.0 Agent Systems

4.1 Agent Languages

4.2 Agent Architectures

4.3 Implemented Agent Systems

5.0 Where can I find more information about agents?

5.1 WWW Resources - Repositories of Agent Information

5.2 Technical papers, Theses and Conference Proceedings

5.3 Books

7.0 Conferences

This document is maintained by Marc Belgrave and has been retrieved times.

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